Mary LaRose and Ledhead
Walking Woman
GM Recordings (3041)

Mary LaRose, vocals; Jeff Lederer, bass clarinet, alto flute, alto sax, and tenor sax; Steve Swell, Walter Hawkes, and Joe Fiedler, trombone; Jamie Saft, Hammond B-3 organ, farfisa organ and piano; Cameron Brown, bass; Matt Wilson, drums; Wayne Coniglio, bass trombone

It's meant as a compliment, but I don't know that I'd want to encounter LaRose in a dark alley, given the witchy scatting that opens her interpretation of an Anthony Braxton piece. You've gotta have an encyclopedic comprehension of music to offer vocal renditions of pieces by Ornette Coleman ("Peace") and Henry Purcell ("Dido's Lament"), interspersed with equally reverent renditions of pop songs by Lennon and McCartney ("Blackbird") and Led Zeppelin ("Kashmir"). Other compositions cover the range from Fletcher Henderson to Eric Dolphy. LaRose has the fearlessness that had better raise her into greater status in Jazz, or else there is no God. If the reader is partial to Jazz vocalists, this will show where the genre is headed; if he or she is reticent about Jazz singing due to its conservative history (as is this writer), Walking Woman is that rare moment of good news regarding the future. Check it out. Everybody.

by Dave McElfresh

New Sounds - CD Reviews March 2000